Industry urges caution as Brits go on February spending spree

Michael Bow
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RETAIL sales saw a surprise increase last month compared to the start of the year but experts warn the high street still faces a gloomy time.

Shoppers spent 1.8 per cent more in February compared to the previous month, figures from the Office for National Statistics showed yesterday, and the number of things bought increased 2.6 per cent year on year, as did the amount of money spent.

The one-off uptick in figures comes against a broader backdrop of lacklustre trading and mounting retail insolvencies, with several high street giants biting the dust over the dismal Christmas trading period.

“One swallow doesn’t make a summer,” KPMG UK head of retail David McCorquodale said. “Retailers need to continue to find ways to drive sales and keep this momentum going.”

David Kern, British Chambers of Commerce chief economist said: “It is important to remember that these are just one month’s figures, following a poor January, and the three-monthly comparison paints a less buoyant picture.”